This isn’t about religion. I’m anti-religious. This is about LOVE, the LIGHT within us, because we are each eternal beings. Matter does not exist. The substance of the universe is consciousness which is LIGHT ENERGY. Christ has been diluted in false narratives by Religion, Inc., the powers of this world. Forget religion. It’s an institute of mind control. We are the LIGHT which cannot be extinguished. This book is the torch passed I’m passing on .
For My Granddaughter, Why I know we are LIGHT
For all my family
The first time I remember going to church was when I was four. I waited to get in the car, excited because my mother had gotten me all dressed up in a velvet dress with ballerina tights and patent leather shoes, and even white gloves like she had on. My parents acted very serious, so it was important to me, too. The next thing I knew I was looking up at a huge gray stone building, walking up broad steps to tall red doors, holding onto my father’s hand, my other hand gripping the cold black railing because people were all around us to go through the doors too, and it was a crowd, and crowds were new to me, so I was afraid of getting lost. I looked up at the church with its dark slate roof and tarnished copper gutters, and the bell in the steeple was ringing, ringing, ringing.
Cold wind braced my cheeks as I watched the bell swing against deep blue sky, and father jerked my hand to follow, mother holding my baby brother Jay just behind us. Thigh-high in a moving stream of wool-coated bodies, if it weren’t for my father I thought I would be trampled. Without even a look goodbye, my mother went with the crowd as father pulled me along to the left. I wondered why we weren’t going with everyone else as we went through a second set of doors with the same rounded shape at the top, but black. Still holding his hand, we entered a large hall. Sunshine through stained glass windows made jewel-colored shapes on the black and white checkered floor, and the vaulted ceiling made it expansive, and I instantly felt more relaxed. There were not a lot of people there; all I saw were children.
Then a woman in a long dress like from a picture book came up to us and father said “This is Miss Elsie, the children’s choir director. You’re going to sing with her.” I smiled, looking up at her face. She looked so kind, and told me that my father led the adult choir and she taught the children, did I like to sing? I’ll never forget how warm she was, she smiled with her eyes. I immediately loved her. My father told me he was leaving me there; he had to take the adult choir into church. Even though it was all new to me, I wasn’t afraid at all.
Suddenly I had a gown on over my clothes that looked like Miss Elsie’s. The doors were closed, and no one else was coming in. It got quiet. It was cold in there, but I didn’t feel cold at all. She lined us up in two rows; I was right of center front, facing her. A paper was in my hand, with writing, shapes and lines, and in just that one morning I learned what notes meant and how to read music. It was easy for me and I didn’t know what natural pitch was yet, but I had it. We sang a song a few times, Miss Elsie singing with us, making eye contact, encouraging us and correcting, and it felt so good; so natural. I didn’t know this was what was going to happen before ‘getting dressed up to go to church’!
The song we sang must have become good enough, because she didn’t ask us to keep singing it, and she lined us up in two rows again at the black double door. I was in the front, on the right. Miss Elsie held two large books behind arms folded across her chest, focusing her attention toward the direction the crowd had gone. Then I heard a deep, beautiful sound like a wave against my chest that called me, and Miss Elsie opened the door as if following it and we children followed her like baby chicks walking into sounds and sights right down the middle of standing people holding books and singing, and we were singing, and I looked up and way up high on the wall in the front was a man with long brown hair and a beard standing in the clouds barefoot, wearing a long blue robe (kind of like mine, but one color), with his hands outstretched, and holes with blood in his palms and on the top of his feet, and it was Jesus, and it was the happiest moment of my life (1).
I believe it was just before Thanksgiving or Christmas, that first day of church. My father was the adult choir director (and had become a deacon, I learned later). Even before going to elementary school, church “became a thing” for me. I had been allowed to skip kindergarten because I already knew how to read and write. At church there was not only the children’s choir but Sunday school, which I went to. So that first day going to church was an immersion into something that became a constant in my life, giving meaning, structure and socialization. Singing felt good and made me happy doing it, and I could see that it made others happy too, starting with Miss Elsie. In choir practice when we got our parts right, she would, as she sang along, looking at the music and conducting with her baton, smile and make eye contact with each of us in approval. That satisfaction and reinforcement was formative and gratifying. It set in place for me the part of my identity that establishes a beautiful task and works at it, deriving the greatest pleasure from the pleasure it gives others, not done for one’s own. I loved seeing the faces of the people as we walked down the aisle of church singing, or looking down from the choir loft at the faces listening.
Like Miss Elsie did and how I described on that first day when I met her (interesting, the building I live in just shifted, with a loud crack within the walls three feet from where I am typing, and it is a converted church, and my apartment faces the graveyard which is immediate to this building, in place of a back yard), we lined up according to height for “The Processional”: how we entered church, singing. We listened with Miss Elsie, who had told us our “que” for entrance for that service, and holding our sheet music in front of us, through those black double doors she opened wide we’d pass through the in-between entrance way and into the church, entering from the back, beneath to the right of the choir loft above. We walked up the center aisle, everyone in the pews singing also from the hymnal they held. I would glance sometimes into the aisles, looking for my mother or a familiar face. Sometimes approving eyes met mine, and it felt like the radiant warmth of sunshine on one’s cheeks despite a blowing, cold wind. I loved it. I think we all loved it in choir. We were serious. And for me it definitely was a contrast to home.
The children’s choir always started the church service, and when we finished the processional hymn for the church service, the church and parishioners remained quiet, and holding our sheet music, we solemnly walked down the aisle, our robes swishing over our clothes, careful not to trip, and then through a small door on the left and up the narrow, burgundy wool carpeted stairs to the choir loft, and take our seats. I sat in the same place always, until age fourteen when I stopped going (explained in a later chapter), next to the railing three seats up from the stair, Miss Elsie at the pipe organ to my left a few seats in front of me. It was my favorite place of all, because I was face to face with Jesus.
Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church – Salem Lutheran, as we called it – is on Frederick Road in Catonsville, Maryland, and you know Newburg Avenue is the cross-street, just before the post office on the other side of the light at the Shell gas station. Directly across Newburg Avenue from the double door I first went into the church by is the Freemason’s Masonic Lodge, called Palestine Lodge No. 189, where I would at age twelve join Job’s Daughters, and because of my obvious faith, become the chaplain for my entire tenure as a “Jobie”, from 1972 to 1977, when I left after graduating high school, and after leaving the cult I was pushed into joining called the Forever Family, which I will explain in a much later chapter here. But the Masonic Lodge was built by the same builders who built (I know, a lot of ‘b’s, but you can hear my voice, and that’s what matters, and it’s not the driven artifice construction of grammar creating a cadence to time reactions and reinforcement, herding ones’ data assimilation like sheep, the technique used for mind control called neurolinguistics) Salem Lutheran, sharing the same style, stone, exterior ironwork and interior woodwork, marble, altars and fonts (a font is a vessel on a stand that holds a liquid, usually holy water, not the meaning of type as you would immediately think in this digital age). It’s a three-story building with an L-shaped parking lot entered from Newburg Avenue or Frederick Road adjoining the Shell gas station, with bushes in between.
The basement was huge and open, with nice, clean buff-polished white and green linoleum tile floors, a full kitchen, a coatroom, closets, bathrooms, and basically divided into two areas corresponding to the footprint of the church. On the Newburg side, beneath the choir practice area, was a large room where I had Sunday school class as a teenager, after I completed Catechism at age twelve, in seventh grade. So again, think L-shape, and this L is flipped 180 to the left, then 90 clockwise. That part, the longer part of the L, parallels Frederick Avenue, and is where the large open space is, with the kitchen area along the street side. Events were held there (and still are!), everything from film showings, plays, pageants, rummage and bake sales, and large meetings (adults, I guess, I was still a child). There was a broad stairway at the end closest to the Shell, and at the ‘intersection’ of the L on the parking lot side.
Each stairway was, like the first entrance I went in on Newburg, double, and could accommodate a crowd easily. The stairs were the type of polished composite aggregate stone which is always smooth and cold, and the railings were wrought iron painted black. Each stairway went from the basement level to the main and the second floor. The first (main) floor was the church area itself, its walls at Frederick and Newburg, and the pastor’s office and Sunday school rooms. Upstairs on the second floor were the rest of the Sunday school rooms, all on the southern-facing parking lot side, and the hallway, which ran east to west (the same as Frederick Road, called Route 144, the country’s first highway to the west, and historic for that reason: colonization) had large painted iron casement windows with a view of the main street. They were tall windows, with tan-painted metal radiator coverings under each of them. I used to like to put my hands on them and lean, looking outside and warming up, watching people go by outside and feeling happy and loved.
Like ethereal dimensions, each level of the church had its own feeling and purpose. Entering the main floor on a Sunday, there was always a crowd of faces which were familiar, if not close. By that I mean close friends. Everyone knew who everyone else was, and seemed to care, at least they did that morning. It was a social event, and smelled like fresh air, soap, perfume, and sometimes the smell of fresh evergreen or lilies and hyacinths, seasonally. Welcoming faces included my Sunday school teachers- many of whom also worked in the school cafeteria (elementary, junior, not-so-much senior). We would go to church and then Sunday school, then afterward meet in the basement for refreshments, and sometimes lunch, which was always wonderful. Of course, since I was in (the children’s) choir, I’d come into the main entrance hallway from the southern-facing parking lot entrance with my family, and then run (it was fun to run there if no one was in the hallways or on the stairs, them being so wide and shiny-tiled and slippery) to the choir practice area to put on my choir robe and practice the morning’s hymns, while upstairs from that fragrant, breezy central entrance hallway, everyone entered, took babies to the nursery if they chose to, and then settled into church as everyone chose their seats in the pews for the service.
The nursery and preschool through second grades of Sunday school were on the main (street) level of Salem. The huge, open entrance area could be accessed from Frederick Road, the rear parking lot, or from within the church via the Newburg Avenue entrance like my first experience shared in chapter one and also from the west entrance which was ground level at the end of the classroom wing hallway, looking out onto the Shell gas station hedge. I think it was Yew, the hedge bush, with a deep green-black small needles, tight branching habit and close growth, making for impenetrability. Past the footprint of the gas station was the next street, Melvin Avenue, and these met at a corner with the traffic light that is still there. After that, same side, is the post office. It would make sense that the shrubbery planted in the previous century when Salem Lutheran was built had been Yew, as it is a slow-growing, dense border which is easily trimmed (think Edward Scissorhands) and also makes a natural livestock barrier, wind and snow break, or fence. The stables that had once been there were torn down years before, and replaced with parking lot. And as Robert Frost wrote in his poem The Mending Wall: “good fences make good neighbors”.
The pastor’s office was the only room on the right, and built off of the open main entrance way, sharing the wall. Immediately across from Pastor Lottich’s (G. Paul Lottich) office was the nursery, the first room on the left of the hallway. Then followed the toddler, kindergarten and first grade. I am unsure if second grade was on the main floor, but I think it was. The rooms were almost exactly like our elementary school classrooms, with blackboards and chalk, bulletin boards, and banners. We had tables which were Formica-topped with metal legs, or wood, and metal and plastic now-retro chairs, or small children’s wooden ones, just like school. Each Sunday we had lessons, lunch and love. Sunday school was good there.
In the Sunday school classrooms, the bulletin boards, decorations, and celebrated festivities in all of life around me were introduced and explained in church as well as school when I began in first grade. Mention of kindergarten is omitted because I was allowed to skip kindergarten because I already knew how to read and write: my mother had taken me to register, but was told I would be bored and to keep me home! That was a Godsend, as I was able to make my own foundation of understanding and sense of self free of artificial construct for one year longer than most children in America at that time!
The structure of our learning tied into everything happening in church, and in the world around us with seasons and holidays. Paralleling what was being focused upon or celebrated, what came from Sunday school was a firm foundation of knowing the difference between right and wrong, and how to treat others.
In second grade, I learned that the first writing and rules and came from a city called Ur in a country named Sumer. How amazed I was that people had lived without them! So lucky, I thought! There was a sense of wonderment as the meaning of life was unfolded week after week, reinforced by the reading materials we were given to take home, and for me, choir practice too.
I loved running on the floors at church, my black patent leather Mary Janes tapping like a dancer’s, because their cool, buffed wax polished smooth aggregate and lack of seams made sliding wonderful, and no one ever really yelled in a mean way, so it felt free and happy. I remember how welcoming the ladies running our classes were. There was always one standing at the door to greet each of us, and I came to know these ladies as familiar faces in Catonsville Elementary and Junior High school as well.
Two of these ladies – a pair of sisters – treated each of us children as if we were their own grandchildren and were just so kind. They had never married (old maids, they were called), and they wore pretty, belted long flowered dresses and “sensible shoes” and looked a lot like Aunt Bea in the black and white TV show called Mayberry RFD. They lived together on Bloomsbury Avenue in an old wooden white clapboard duplex about midway down on the left, between Frederick Road and Bishops Lane. Mamaux and Pop had owned the 4-1/2 acres spanning Bishops Lane, from the corner of Bloomsbury to the end of the block, where one turns left, passes Catonsville Elementary on the left, and ends up at Frederick Road again, by Ridgeway Auto. I took the Jeep there and had some work done the day before I saw your mom for the first time in nearly four years and then saw you the next, when Mommy had you call me and invite me to the movies with you and Lola on October 6, 2018. Across the street is the Christadelphian Church, where I went to my first dance at age 12, another story, in my autobiography, if it’s ever finished!
In choir singing about the meaning of existence, and who we are within the larger framework of the spirit and our meaning and place in the universe, a truly metaphysical uplifting occurred: a transcendence. It was real. A reality was sung into being, from my being, and that is called cymatics, and it is creation. I cannot describe this any other way. Here I was, a little child, singing these songs written hundreds of years ago, understanding how to read sheet music, and thinking about the lives of the people in the paintings and other artwork all around me and in books. It was as if I were in another dimension through the church, singing, learning and contemplation of what the focus was. That’s actually true, for what one focuses on becomes reality, and we create thoughtforms. My father, an elementary school music teacher, brought home art, music and history for me to look at or read, in addition to taking me to see his friends, all beatniks.
Beatniks were from the late 50’s to the early 60’s, before the hippie movement. All social changes are ‘steered’: created as social experiments by the rulers of the world to try to shape its destiny and the fate of humankind, and included musicians, writers, intellectuals and artists and one artist friend of my fathers was actually named Art. Father took me to the house their band (my fathers’ and his friends) practiced at, and they played Puff the Magic Dragon for me so I could with them, because he had gotten the record and sang along to it at home. While they were making music (jazz), I walked around the house just looking at all the strange things on the walls.
One thing on the walls (there wasn’t much furniture!) was bigger than my bed and covered with all kinds of things, matchbooks, even and pieces of leather, and boxes and words I couldn’t read (much like some of the artwork I’ve made). I stared at it, trying to figure it out and looking at every little thing in it. When they were finished, I asked father what it was, and he said “That’s art”. Confused, I looked at the man, Art, his friend, sitting in wooden chair grinning at me (it was a dining room), and said to my father “but that’s Art, I don’t understand!” And they all laughed, and then I laughed, because art was more than a drawing and more than a name. Later in my life I went to the college Art did, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). And you are an artist, and your dad.
So even six, seven, eight, nine, ten years old, I was conveyed through the music and the art and the words and the very act of sound and intention to a metaphysical realm that I note is now lacking from this world of 2018. The world was different then, even one generation ago. GOD has been removed, replaced by Baphomet, in peoples’ minds and hearts. But not everyone’s.
Now I must tell you about my grandmother I called Grandma (with a ‘d’, not an ‘m’), the one family member who planted in my heart the seed of God’s Love.
When I was seven, my grandmother (my mother’s mother, and a nurse too) came to visit, to help take care of us children while my parents left because my grandfather was dying. So I got to ask Grandma all about Jesus. She was the first person outside of Sunday school and choir I could really do this with! I was so excited! I think I was so eager to talk with her because she was so sweet to me, and happy to talk about him, and God. I had tried talking to my parents, but they didn’t seem that interested, and even seemed irritated (I now understand why: another story).
Grandma’s answer when I asked her my first question “Is Jesus real?” was YES. Just like you asked me when you were seven, Emily. I asked where we go after we died. We had begun talking about my granddaddy Rohrer, who had just died, and that’s why she was visiting, to take care of us while mother and father were away. I asked her where he was, and she said that he was in heaven with God, although that might have been ‘stretching it’, for my sake, as a young child, and she would have known that she could not know that, but I was young, and learning about God, and we looked out the window at the stars in the night sky. I asked her where heaven was and she said it was up past the stars, where God is. I asked if He could see us (I meant both Jesus and God, I think), and she said yes, He watches over us all the time. I asked where we go after we died, if we will go to heaven when we die, and she said yes, if we loved him and believed in Him and did what He asked us to do. I asked her what that was and she said to obey His commandments and love one another, and to pray to Him.
And then my grandmother told me that Jesus wants us to love Him more than we love anyone else. I told her that sometimes it seemed like sometimes mommy and daddy did things and also made me do things Jesus wouldn’t want us to do, and she said I still have to love Him more than I loved them, and to do my best, and pray to him because he loves us and is always there, and listening. And we said my bedtime prayer together.
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
take me Lord for Jesus’ sake.
God bless Mommy, Daddy, my grandma and gramma,
Gramma Rohrer, Uncle Mike and Aunt Dee…”
…all my other uncles and aunts and cousins,
my brothers Jay and Charlie and David,
and Princey (my cousin Kimmie’s pony), and Dutchie my dog, a beagle my father had found on the beltway and gave to me when I was five.
And we said amen together and went to sleep, holding hands.
Know that the Most High GOD knows and loves you even though you do not feel you know Him. You do, because you have His DNA. You are genetically one of His Children. So am I and that is why I write this to you, Why I am Christian. To believe in GOD, the Creator of ALL – SOURCE, the LIGHT within EACH of us, doesn’t mean what you have been told it does by the powers of this world, through movies, books, advertising, music, fashion, politics, education, every product, everything. I write this to bring you to remembrance of who you are: a beloved treasure and priceless, beloved child of God.
Soon after, my parents came back and then my father and Grandma left, and he drove her home. I remember being in the breakfast room (the first dining room off the kitchen, not the formal dining room) talking to my mother, who was sitting at the table drinking after working her night shift as a coronary intensive care nurse. I was so excited to tell her about what I learned from Grandma, and how Jesus wanted me to love Him more than I loved anyone else, even my parents. Imagine how surprised I was, so crestfallen and confused, shamed, when she got very angry with me and told me in a very ugly, yelling voice, “I am your mother, and you have to love me more than you love anyone else, including Jesus.” And she sent me away from her in anger; made me leave the room. I went to my bedroom, feeling punished for a wrong that was not a wrong. I know I felt punished. I felt terrible, and so conflicted. I wanted to be with Jesus in heaven, and meet God one day. I loved him so much, and I felt his love inside of me. I loved my mother, even though she hurt me sometimes. But I loved her from a place deep inside myself, like you love your mommy, Emily, who I know you miss so very, very much, unbearably, it must seem. I believe Mommy is in heaven, Emily, because He judges our hearts, and hers is GOOD. . We talked many hours those last two months last year, and she was interested and it was making sense. “I’m wrapping my mind around it so hard my head hurts”, were her words on the 18th of December last.
Grandma was a central part of why I am a believer. Now I am sixty, and every seed that was planted in me has grown into a soul garden filled with the spirit of LIGHT and LOVE, a gift I want to help grow in you.
Months and years went by, and my father and mother separated the summer I was nine and divorced by the time I was in sixth grade. We visited both grandmothers on weekends throughout the year. Occasionally I got to visit one or the other grandmother alone for an overnight. They were so different, yet they each loved us all so much. As I continued going to church, choir and my Sunday school classes, it was Grandma who enjoyed hearing what I shared that I learned with her, and how it felt to me to begin to know God personally. And at the same time, the responsibility for my brothers’ and my going to church began to fall on my young shoulders. It came to be that something I saw each week came to reinforce the words of my Grandma, fitting together like a roadmap for the beginning of my young life that was becoming so fraught with difficulty.
But we are given exactly what we need, although we do not initially know it, and sometimes it can take a lifetime to unlearn what we were taught, and to replace lies with the truth that has been hidden in plain sight.
Every week from age four to fourteen had a glue and an anchor in it of meaning, inspiration and hope because of Salem Lutheran.
No matter what went on within my family – and it was a very violent and abusive home – love was given and reinforced for me in church. That would change, however, but the core of good remains despite circumstances and wrongdoings by individuals and systems – within my own church, the Pastor himself – and is addressed later. For now, this is my early years, and the few (very few) people who left a lasting effect which became a foundation; a rock, and shaped my path. This isn’t about religion, Emily. I’m anti-religious. This is about LOVE, and the LIGHT within us, because we are each eternal beings.
Until my father and mother separated in the summer between fourth and fifth grade, we went to church driven by my father…
To be continued.
(1) The next happiest moment of my life was when YOU were born, Emily, even moreso than your Auntie Em or dad, my own daughter and son. I was, yes, very happy when they were born, but YOUR birth seemed to encapsulate that happiness and tie it all together in one big circle of life. This is why I have told you, my granddaughter Emily, WHY I AM CHRISTIAN.